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Forgiveness isn’t always an easy thing, but letting go of anger, resentment, and disappointment can be life-changing. That goes double when it comes to forgiving one person in particular: yourself. Here, spiritual empowerment coach and Well+Good Council member Kelsey Patel explains who that is—and why self-forgiveness can set your soul free.

Two of the most powerful words we can utilize in our vocabulary for lasting and true transformation are “I forgive”—and with good reason.

While the mind may immediately think about forgiveness of others and all the things you’ve experienced because of another human being’s actions, this form of forgiveness is about you and your choice to practice self-love in February on a whole new level.

As we all know, it can be very easy to call out who has hurt you or made you feel like less of a human being at some point in time. That could be anyone: an ex-boyfriend who cheated, a parent who utterly disappointed you with their actions or lack thereof, a boss who never acknowledged your talents and contributions, a friend who forgot your birthday, a homeless man who lashed profanity toward you, or even the yoga teacher who paid attention to everyone else but you in class. All of those are the easy ones to find and say, “Yes, I forgive you.” But what about you?

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How many times have you unconsciously told yourself you’re not enough? Not working at the right job, not skinny enough, not a good enough friend (or girlfriend, wife, mother, or daughter), not pretty enough, not doing enough…and the list goes on. It’s not about forgiving all of the thoughts your mind tries to tell you about yourself, it’s about forgiving yourself for believing them. When you sit down and really start to look at all the moments in your life that have shaped who you’ve become, you might start to find that along the way you picked up some false beliefs about yourself as well.

No one can ever make you feel a certain way unless you, too, decide to believe it.

You see, the people who are around us in life usually become a great mirror for what we need to work on the most within ourselves. No one can ever make you feel a certain way unless you, too, decide to believe it. We each have a remarkable gift in life, and it’s called choice. You can choose to show up with love, acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion toward yourself—and to trust that you’re right on time in your life. Or, you can keep telling yourself that everyone else is right, that you need to be more, do more, and have more in order to truly find happiness. The choice is yours.

And, in this month of February—when everyone is focused on different feelings and a variety of emotions like love, loss, sadness, gratitude, or joy—practicing self-forgiveness might be just the thing you’re looking for. That moment of “I forgive myself” also means “I accept myself.” And there’s a tremendous amount of joy, love, and serenity in that powerful phrase.

Kelsey Patel headshot
Photo: Kelsey Patel

Kelsey Patel is a sought-after spiritual empowerment coach, yoga teacher, reiki healer, and meditation teacher. She is also the creator and founder of Magik Vibes, a soul-enhancing lifestyle brand, the resident reiki instructor for Soho House, and a head teacher at The DEN Meditation and Unplug Meditation in Los Angeles. Kelsey has been featured in  publications such as US WeeklyHarper’s Bazaar, and The New York Times.

What should Kelsey write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to [email protected]